While many companies focus on physical activity in their corporate wellness program, they often don’t prioritize the other pieces of the wellness puzzle – nutrition. According to the Institute for Health Metrics, poor nutrition has nearly three times the impact on health as low fitness. While more than two-thirds of the U.S. population classified as obese and 86 million Americans struggling with pre-diabetes, the need for better, more accessible nutrition education is evident.
One health-conscious brand aiming to reverse this trend is Territory Foods, a meal delivery service dedicated to fueling corporations across its footprint with “intentional eating.” Territory Food defines intentional eating as purposefully choosing foods that nourish and energize your body.
According to Danielle Schaub, RD, and Culinary and Nutrition Manager at Territory Foods, one of the biggest inhibitors to intentional eating is the workplace. Work for most people is stressful and mentally draining – their schedule can be unpredictable, and they are surrounded by people who are inevitably influencing behavior. Most of us are creatures of habit with daily routines centered around work demands. However, these factors actually make the workplace a prime opportunity to improve our intentional eating game.
Eating with intention requires thought and focus, and it can be hard when there are so many life stresses competing for that mental energy. “How many times have you been starving after a long, stressful day and did not have the energy to think about what foods for dinner would make you feel the best? Or you’ve tried to stick to a certain diet and gotten confused or overwhelmed by all the conflicting nutrition information out there. Sometimes it feels like the best we can do is just get something in our bellies and survive the day,” says Danielle.
Territory Foods makes intentional eating at work even easier by providing a wide variety of unquestionably healthy, fully-prepared meals that are crafted by local chefs. By partnering with companies to deliver healthy meals directly to office refrigerators, Territory helps these companies invest in the health and wellness of its employees by fueling their workdays with intentional smart choices.
Eating well in the workplace can have a significant impact on overall health and well-being. Nutritious foods can improve concentration and cognitive function, boosting an employee’s workplace performance. It is well documented that employee well-being leads to higher creativity and productivity. The World Health Organization (WHO) has found that optimal nourishment can raise national productivity levels by 20%. Healthy employees are happier, calmer, more engaged, sleep better and get sick less often.
Providing healthy food options in the corporate setting is an effective way to get employees to stick to smart eating habits – which benefits both the individual and the company. Here are just a few of the major benefits:
Improve employee productivity. Healthy foods provide employees with vitamins their brains need to function properly, creating happier and more productive employees. A study by Brigham Young University shows that people with unhealthy eating habits are 66% more likely to demonstrate poor productivity at work. The success of any company depends heavily on the productivity and performance of its employees.
Lower healthcare costs. A Center for Disease Control and Prevention study shows that 75% of corporate healthcare expenses are spent on chronic diseases, mostly diet-related. The CDC identified the top four behaviors that contribute to chronic disease in the U.S.: poor nutrition, physical inactivity, frequent alcohol consumption and tobacco use. These conditions cost employers $28.2 million every year in productivity loss as a result of absenteeism and functional limitation.
Eliminate the guesswork. Providing the office with healthy foods means taking out the guesswork and saving employees the time searching for affordable, fast and nutritious lunches. Employees are lacking in the time and the motivation to give a second thought to healthy eating on top of all of their pressing work duties and responsibilities. Providing employees with options such as fruits and vegetables, yogurt, nuts, granola bars, smoothies, and oatmeal can eliminate the sometimes difficult process of finding nutritious foods.
How to Help Employees Eat Better
Only 26% of adult Americans eat vegetables three or times every day. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines recommend adults eat anywhere from five to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day depending on age, gender, physical activity and overall health. Because most corporate employees spend at least 40 hours in the office each week, their daily health decisions begin in the workplace – so it’s the perfect opportunity for employers to help tackle this problem. Some ways to improve nutritional habits and the quality of the foods eaten at work are:
Make meetings and celebrations healthy events. Whenever food is brought in for an event, include healthy options such as a fruit or vegetable tray. If the event is being catered, request healthy, lower calorie selections from the menu. Some ways to make meetings and events healthier can include portion control, 100% whole grain products, low salt and sodium options and offering water and low-calorie beverages.
Offer healthy eating information. By offering information about healthy eating, employees will be able to make better food choices at work as well as out of work. Include opportunities to attend lunch and learn sessions about nutrition education, cooking demonstrations and supportive group discussions. These type of events can help bring nutrition to front and center.
Review vending machines and candy jars. The workplace should be an environment to enhance good nutritional habits and changing the types of foods that are easily accessible is instrumental. 38% of employeesdon’t feel encouraged to lunch break and may turn to vending machines for their meals. By requesting vending machine companies to provide healthier choices, those on-the-go employees can still have a chance to consume healthy foods. Also, make sure your breakroom provides ample refrigerators and microwaves so that meals can be stored and prepared easily.
Provide healthy, on-demand food. Having nutritious and delicious meals delivered to the office can foster an attitude of nutritional awareness, especially regarding portion sizes. Consider subsidizing part of employee’s meals, offering discounts or even as an incentive for your wellness program.
In the workplace, healthy, intentional eating and nutrition programs can serve an integral role in fostering employee health and wellness. The majority of food choices – often breakfast, lunch and snacks – are made during the workday. By encouraging employees to make intentional choices at work where they tend to fall into routines, you can set your employees up for success as these healthy choices become more automatic and repetitive.